One of things that Big Business and advertisers try to sell us is the idea that we all need to conform to a particular image of being cool. Marketers research youth to find out where we feel insecure and try to feed off of our fears selling us ideas that having more things is going to make us feel whole and happy. This is an absolute fantasy, because happiness is not found in having more things and being something other than what we are. The knowledge of Hiphop teaches us that we can find happiness in being our authentic selves and sharing that uniqueness with the world. Instead of looking at what is lacking in someone’s life, Hiphop teaches us to look at the strengths that someone possesses.
Many institutions thrive off seeing what is wrong with people, the problem is that focusing on the problems only creates more problems. In Hip-hop culture, we learn to look at the strengths that people possess instead of dwelling on their short comings. Everyone has a place where they can shine within Hiphop. If you can rap, we can have you play at a concert, if you are better with music, you can create the track or Dj the event. If you are better with visual art, you can help create the flyer, if you are better with people you can help promote the event or help with coordination. If you have the gift of leadership than you can help MC the event, if you are better with numbers you can help collect money. The knowledge of Hiphop communicates that we are all good at something. This is a very powerful lesson because just like it takes money to make money, it takes focusing on what is going right to find solutions to what is going wrong.
Just like the blues, Hiphop teaches that we can face the struggle head on, and instead of getting burdened by it, we can turn it into art and express ourselves. The elements of Hiphop (Djing, Mcing, Breaking, and Graffiti.. there are other too) provide a platform for people to channel this energy into something powerful and effective. The truth is we all have something that we are good at, something that is like a spark of passion or creative intelligence. By building on that strength we can learn to let that strength outshine any of the issues we are facing. By focusing that negative energy into something positive we enjoy doing, we will find that we can shake the burdens of our past off our shoulders by being fully engaged in the moment.
One example of this, is when my brother Gabriel had been recently diagnosed with cancer. I remember feeling so sad, but it seemed easier for me to express this emotion through anger. Because of this my wifey and I were having a lot of fights. One night as we went out we got into such an argument that she was literally about to drop me off on the corner and told me to find some other way home. Luckily, we were on our way to a Hiphop show where there was about to be an MC battle. I hadn’t decided to enter it until the point that I showed up feeling really pissed off.
I remember this was my first battle, but I wasn’t that nervous because I was so damn pissed. I could have easily picked a fight with some other dude and took out my aggression that way. Instead I signed up for the battle and just lyrically took out each MC that I faced. Not even concerned about winning the battle, but getting this energy off my chest, I started winning each battle I was in. To my surprise when I finally realized it, I was headed to the finals. Since there was an odd number of people in the finals, I had to battle two MC’s at once I went first and I came up gunning. I was so heated that I just went after both of them at the same time. They were so shocked that the couldn’t come back and I ended up winning the battle. At the end I grabbed the mic when I received the trophy and I ended up dedicating the battle to my little brother Gabriel who was sick in the hospital. I ended up feeling much better made peace with my wife and we went home peacefully. I was able to let my abilities outshine the stress I was feeling and in doing so I elevated in skill and decreased my depression.
In summary, the knowledge of Hiphop says that we don’t need to have money to be rich. We can be rich in our skills, being original, and letting our strength outshine our struggle. The truth of the matter is that some of the most depressed people are people who have a lot of money. What good is it to have money if you can’t share your feeling with the world? What good is money if you can’t tell your story, and shine from within? It is this ability to be honest and be authentic that can bring money, but you will never have lasting happiness without learning how to shine from within. This is the knowledge of hiphop and yes it can’t stop, won’t stop.